Thursday, November 30, 2006


Ok Colin James performing at the Liberal Cabaret was a better choice to watch than the Talking Heads Alberta PC leadership debate on GlobalTV. What a snorefest.

About the only time it got exciting was when Morton pouted over being misquoted by one of the reporters asking questions. It was about how Morton had slagged Steady Eddie Stelmach saying if elected he would end up losing the next provincial election. Morton went ballistic and claimed he never said it, and wanted the reporters source or he would sue. Thin skined or what. And what was with Mortons makeup? It made him look like a California Beach Boy.

The winner? Steady Eddie Stelmach.He actually appeared sincere, unlike his opponents. Look at this picture, who is actually looking at you.

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But I am biased I am a Ukrainian Albertan after all.


Ted Morton

Conservative Leadership Race

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Iggy Endorses The Draft

Gee Canada could get kinda drafty under Iggy's leadership. This gives new meaning to Iggy nation.

Liberal leadership front-runner Michael Ignatieff says he'd like to see young Canadians heading overseas, bringing Canadian values to some of the world's hot spots including Afghanistan and Zimbabwe. "This is a generation that can lead the world," he said at the leadership convention Thursday. "I want to be the leader who got this generation out to Zimbabwe, to Afghanistan, to the places where Canada can make a difference."

He must have been talking to his Democratic buddy Charlie Rangel.


Liberal Leadership Race

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Liberal Cabaret

So I have watched the Liberal Convention on CBC, CTV and CPAC and have come to the conclusion this is not a political convention it's a cabaret. There are bands playing when convention business is not being done. And when policy debates are occuring the hall is practically empty, as motions pass with no debate. Heck even when screamin Howard Dean spoke last night the hall was less than half full, with more reporters than delegates.

William Johnson on CPAC noted that in the policy sessions and workshops there are barely any delegates and no debate. Wow what difference from the NDP convention where debate happened in the policy sessions and on the floor for the whole country to see.

Even the one member one vote motion which did not pass was voted on by just over six hundred delegates. 600 out of 5000. Where are the Liberal delegates. Here is a major renewal Convention and it passes motions like an automaton, with no debate, and delegates are missing in action.

Perhaps the cabaret theme of the Convention, right now Paul Martin is being serenaded by a singer doing an Aria from Carmen (there is an irony in that) is reflection not so much of party renewal but renewing the party, as in P A R T Y.

I figure the delgates are out touring Montreal or getting drunk, and having a libidinous good time in sexy Montreal in their sexy Liberal thongs. A Good old Liberal party with liberal dashes of sex and libations. Politics, heck we are only here for the vote.And since it is more of a cabaret than a convention this seems appropriate.

What good is sitting...alone in your room
Come, hear the music play
Life is a cabaret, ole chum...come to the cabaret

Put down that knittin?...that book and the broom
It's time for a holiday
Life is a cabaret, ole come to the cabaret

Come taste the wine...come hear the band
Yes it?s time...for celebratin?
Right this way your table´s waitin?

No use permittin?....some prophet of doom
To wipe every smile away
Life is a cabaret , ole chum...come to the cabaret

Come taste the wine...come hear the band
Come blow your horn...start celebratin?
Right this way your table´s waitin?

No use admmitin?....that ole prince of doom
Wipe all those smiles away
Life is a cabaret , old chum
Only a cabaret, old chum
So come to the cabaret

And while Craig Oliver of CTV said that those clever Liberals with their convention made the Alberta PC race irrelevant, well I am switching channels to watch the PC leadership debate rather than stale tributes to the loser Paul Martin. After all at least the PC debate is political.


Liberal Leadership Race

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Iranian Union Leader Jailed

Courtesy of Labourstart. You can find Labourstart solidarity campaigns posted in the left hand column. Like the oppression of women in Iran, trade unionists are subjected to the iron hand of the Mullah state.


We told you last week about the arrest of Mansour Osanloo, the leader of the
bus drivers union in Tehran. Your response has been excellent -- over 2,500 of
you have already sent messages to the Iranian President demanding his release.

We've now gotten some more details, and they make for grim reading.

We know that Oslanloo has been taken to Evin prison where authorities claim
that they are "negotiating" with him. (How you can negotiate with someone who
you've arrested is an interesting question.)

The authorities also claim that he will be allowed one visitor, his mother --
but no one has told the guards outside the prison. His mother waited in vain
for a chance to see her son.

His family has not even been allowed to phone him.

Clearly the authorities are hoping to break his will -- and thereby weaken the
emerging trade union movement in Iran. Remember that this is a movement which
managed to completely shut down the capital with a transport strike earlier in
the year, despite massive repression.

It is essential that we turn up the pressure and flood the Iranian government
with more messages this week. Please make sure to send on your message today
-- and to pass this letter on!



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Will The Tories Be Outraged

Looking forward to a real blockbuster of a Law and Order Speech, denounciation of the National Parole Board for being soft on criminals by Vic Toews over this .....Colin Thatcher released on full parole. But of course they won't cause he's a Troy, a wife murdering Tory, but a Tory none the less.

On November 30th, 2006, Thatcher was granted full parole by a three-member panel of the National Parole Board. He had been living at a Regina halfway house since the summer when he was released on day parole. Ordinarily, he wouldn't have been eligible to seek full parole for 25 years, but a jury granted him immediate eligibility at a so-called "faint-hope" hearing in 2003.

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Our Jean

Ms Jean then inspected a guard of honour mounted by a contingent from the Ghana Army and thereafter interacted with the Ministers of State and members of the Diplomatic Corps.

At the end of her interaction with the Ministers of State and members of the Diplomatic Corps, Ms Jean’s attention was caught by the drumming, dancing and acrobatic display by the cultural group.

Apparently enthused by the display, she went to the group to pay her compliments but ended up dancing, to the admiration of the dignitaries.

According to the programme for her visit, Ms Jean will hold bilateral talks with President Kufuor at the Castle and visit places, including the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre and the Supreme Court, as well as Canada-funded projects.

The visit is significant, as this year marks the 100th anniversary of the first major Canadian presence in Ghana’s history.

Besides, Ghana is the first country to receive Canadian development assistance and the country is the third largest trading partner of Canada in sub-Saharan Africa.
Canada has decided to give 480 million Canadian dollars to Ghana in support of the country’s development budget annually.

The decision followed the classification of Ghana, from among 14 other African countries, as a country of concentration for Canada’s development assistance.

Receiving the Governor General of Canada, Ms Michelle Jean, at the Castle, Osu, yesterday, President J.A. Kufuor explained that Canada had decided to select a few countries to receive substantial development assistance, instead of spreading the assistance to many countries.

Out of the 25 countries selected by Canada world-wide, 14 of them are in Africa. Ms Jean is in the country for a five-day official visit.

I have to agree with John Murney on this. Our Governor General is making a difference because she is different than other GG's in the Commonwealth.

She is a woman, yep we have had them before, she is a Hatian immigrant a Quebecois and black. And she is touring Africa.
And as you can see in the picture above she is not afraid to shake her booty. To get down with the ordinary folks.

Michaelle Jean only 2nd foreigner after Mandela to address Mali's parliament

The forgotten contient. Whose poverty is exasperated by its historic exploitation by the old colonial empires and Islam, and now by climate change created by the developed world but impacting on Africa. So there seems to be no outcry against her trip to Africa unlike the outcry over the last GG's globe hopping.

She has drawn attention to accomplishments in a variety of areas including peacekeeping, successful businesses that have been launched by community savings-and-loan institutions, a new skills-training centre, and agriculture and health programs that have helped save a disaster-plagued Malian village.

Most of those projects have benefited from the involvement of Canadians, either through government aid or the help of businesses or ordinary citizens.

Jean said earlier this week that she wants to prove to Canadians that the $1.5 billion spent annually by the federal government on aid to Africa does make a difference.

Jean has been outspoken as well.Denouncing slavery as Africa celebrates the official end of Colonial based Slavery on the contient, though many countries still practice this offense against humanity.

At a state luncheon given by Algeria's president, Jean spoke of her deeply personal attachment to Africa as a black Haitian-born descendent of slaves. It was the prelude to a sombre pilgrimage Jean plans to make next week in Ghana, where she will take a symbolic step through the infamous Door of No Return.

Thousands of Africans passed through that gated archway as they were whisked from a seaside fortress onto slave ships that carried them to their fate in the Americas.

"My ancestors were torn from their lives," Jean told a diplomatic audience in a speech Monday in Algiers.

"(They were) stripped of themselves, of their language, their name, their memory, their history, of their basic dignity as women and men, and were reduced to slavery and deported to the Americas. . . .

"This trip is especially meaningful and emotional for me. And I am delighted that my first state visits have brought me to this continent - to which I feel forever bound by history, by heart and by blood."

Michaelle Jean wept softly for several minutes Wednesday as she stared out from a seaside castle that still literally reeks from the stench of slavery.

The passing of generations hasn't erased the fetid trace of bodily waste in the dark, dank dungeons of Elmina castle where tens of thousands of human beings were stored like cattle.

The Governor General, a Haitian-born descendant of slaves, triggered a chain reaction of tears from her entourage as she broke into sobs while touching the rusty iron gate of the so-called the Door of No Return.

Her ancestors left this continent in shackles, piled like "pieces of ebony" into the rickety slave ships bound for Haiti. They survived the long march to the coast and spent weeks chained in the clammy castle, before being branded with the insignia of their owners and then herded through the door to waiting slave ships.

Tour guide Charles Adu Arhin told her the women were starved and subjected to frequent rapes. They lived in their own filth and were punished for resisting rape by being chained to heavy cannon balls and left in the blazing tropical sun.

"I stood in the women's room where they were jailed and thought of my own ancestors," Jean, visiting as part of a three-week African tour, said later. "I was very troubled."

The fort was built by the Portuguese in the 1400s, who used it first for trading gold and salt, before realizing humans were a far more valuable commodity. When the Dutch took over the fort in the 1500s, they increased the export of slaves by nearly threefold.

It wasn't until the late 1800s that the transatlantic slave trade was finally stopped. By then, an estimated 17 million Africans had been carried across the ocean.

Now, the Ghanaian government is embarking on a controversial tourism campaign called Project Joseph, after the biblical figure who was betrayed by his brothers and sold into slavery, and who forgave them many years later. The project is a tourist program aimed at the global black diaspora in an effort to draw people here to rediscover their roots.

An apology for the country's historical role as slave raiders is part of the campaign.

Trailing a large entourage of Canadian delegates, Ghanaian officials and media from both countries, Arhin led Jean to the dungeon where slaves were once led to the waiting boats.

"The people who entered here knew they would not return," he said. "But thank God you've returned."

and calling for womens rights.

There were some uncomfortable grumbles and glances in Mali's parliament yesterday when Michaelle Jean urged the African country to extend unprecedented rights to its women.The handful of elected females beamed and cheered on Canada's Governor General from their seats.

One leading newspaper columnist compared her with sporting greats Muhammad Ali and Pele.

Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean's speech to the Malian parliament earned front page coverage in most of the country's newspapers. Her plea on behalf of women's rights earned the lion's share of the attention and the banner headlines. "There is no governance without equality between men and women," was the cover headline of L'Independant, quoting Jean.

And for celebrating Canada's real Foreign Affairs successes not by sending troops to Afghanistan to fight Americas war but by helping an impoverished African village renew itself. For a measly $35,000 intial investment.Which is a far cry from the $9 billion it is expected we will spend in the war in Afghanistan. This is real reconstruction. Africa is where Canada can make a real difference. And it is Chretien's legacy, something the Tories won't talk about.

African village lauds Canada for lending helping hand
Assistance has made world of difference

BENIELI, Mali — An African village that has endured a near- biblical string of hardship found a few good reasons to throw a party Sunday.

Hunger once ran rampant in the mud and straw huts that sprinkle this craggy Malian plateau. Droughts were common and still are.

Then there was the locust plague that devastated crops and stripped every leaf off every tree last year.

The children's bloated bellies spoke to widespread malnourishment. Many never stood a chance of even making it that far.

Pregnant women frequently died by the highway as they walked or rode carts pulled by donkeys for 18 kilometres to the closest birthing centre.

But the crowd of 1,000 festive locals who clapped, danced and sang with Gov. Gen Michaelle Jean on Sunday spoke proudly of better days ahead.

“ We can only thank Canada," said Oumarta Tapily, the mayor of a conglomeration of area hamlets.

Villagers gave the governor general a goat with a Canadian flag stuck into its collar, which Jean petted affectionately but did not plan to take home with her.

The turning point in this village began with Yaiguere Tembely, who started a women's group and sought help for women in the surrounding area several years ago.

“ We needed to do something," she said in an interview.

“ So I went looking for partners . . . and somebody told me about the Canadians."

Her first priority was to launch a contraceptive program that would prevent the spread of AIDS and help control population growth. She got that help at the Canadian embassy seven years ago.

Then came the microfinance program. And the cereal banks that stabilized grain prices. And the health centre.

All are Canadian contributions that have turned the page on some of the misery.

A male nurse stands outside the health centre, built with $ 50,000 from Canada but run with local funds. The walls of this stone- cement block are splashed with posters full of information about contraceptives and HIV.

This is where the women of Benieli and surrounding towns now come to bear their children. The 29- year- old nurse praises God and says no woman has died in childbirth since the centre opened two years ago.

Behind the centre is a new grain mill that towers over the village. The local women bought it with profits from their new businesses selling soap, clothing and vegetables.

Those business ventures were launched with loans from the new microfinance program. The Canadian funded institution has a 100 per cent loan- repayment rate and has seen its value grow to $ 350,000, from an initial Canadian investment of $ 35,000.

The food shortage was also crippling this community, with observers reporting children so hungry they could not speak or walk. They reported one five- year- old who weighed just 13 pounds.

Canadians introduced the villagers to vendors who could provide betterquality millet, onion and potato seeds, and helped dig ditches to reduce soil erosion.

Malnutrition rates now stand at three per cent, a huge improvement over the near- ubiquitous hunger of just a few years ago.




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It should never have even come up. Same-sex debate may end quickly



Same Sex Marriage


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Reconstructing The Taliban

Reconstruction funds in Southern Afghanistan are making there way to the Taliban. Now why would that be?

“American money is haram [unlawful in Islam],” said Abdul Jalil, an elder in one village. “We could not use it to improve our lives. So we decided to give it to the Taleban. The most important thing we could do with this money was help the Taleban to pursue the jihad.”

At a gathering in the local mosque, mullahs exhorted the faithful to reject foreign blandishments and contribute to the insurgency, said Jalil. The elders agreed, so the Taleban were summoned and the money handed over.

An elder in another village called Lashko, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told IWPR that the villagers were well aware that they could not use the funds without Taleban consent.

“It’s the Taleban who are with us in the night-time,” he said. “They are powerful: they can enforce their rules and punish those who violate them. One day, the US troops gave us 50,000 afghani [1,000 US dollars] for a construction project, but the Taleban came to us that evening and asked us what we were going to do with it. We told them it was their decision. They took the money and left.”

According to this man, US troops arrived a few days later to see what had been accomplished with their donation. At a loss to reply, villagers told them that the Taleban had taken the money by force.

“The soldiers were angry and threatened that they would not help us against the Taleban,” he said.

Cash disbursements and distribution of goods were part of a special drive carried out in the course of military operations in areas where support for the Taleban has been strong. The fact that the aid was distributed by soldiers from an “occupying force” seems to have particularly angered the militants.

Other reconstruction projects administered by donors and carried out by contractors have had more success, although in places like Ghazni, implementing partners are becoming increasingly scarce, leaving assistance money and projects vulnerable to pressure from insurgents.



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Oil the New Silk Road

Interesting article in the Globalist on the far east oil cartels being created by Russia, China and the Islamic Conference, in the hotly contested region of the Caspian. It is the region of geo-political power brokering as America used its war in Afghanistan to offset the Russian Chinese dominance in the region. It is all about energy security. It is the real face of Imperialist conflict amongst competing hegemons.

Caspian oil field to produce 25% more

Japan Strives to Balance Energy Needs with World Politics

Oil Pipelines Fuel Balkan Dreams of Overnight Riches

China wants to develop Darkhan field in Kazakhstan area of Caspian

Same road, new trade.

Globalist Perspective > Global Economy
The New Silk Road

By George Magnus | Thursday, November 30, 2006

Asia and oil exporters, especially those in the Gulf, have a long history of commerce. The ancient and continental Silk Road was once a major conduit of goods, technology and even religion. As George Magnus — UBS's Senior Economic Advisor — argues, a new silk road has emerged through the trade of hydrocarbons, petrodollars and, like its ancient counterpart, consumer goods.

A multi-polar Asia and Middle East, incorporating China, Russia, India, Japan, Korea, Iran and Saudi Arabia, could hardly have remained passive as the significance and price of hydrocarbons increased

Although the Silk Road remained active for another 300 years, political instability and upheavals in Asia and the Middle East consigned the Silk Road to disuse.
and as the economies of Asia continued to grow absolutely and in importance.

A new strategic tapestry is in the process of being formed, its threads being hydrocarbons, petrodollars, consumer products and technologies, military ties, labor migration — even religion.

The hydrocarbon part of this is self explanatory, and a shift in the Middle East to prioritise shipments towards Asia is evident in both crude oil and natural gas as Asian demand rises and as it switches steadily away from coal.

Flow of capital

The other economic linkages are rather newer and warrant attention, not least because Middle Eastern countries may now be much more sensitive to Asian business cycles. Further, Asia is becoming more sensitive to Middle Eastern energy developments.

For 30 years, East and South Asian investors have been significant investors in the Middle East, competing for management and investment contracts while capital has gone in the other direction.

Islamic finance

But these flows of expertise and capital have gathered considerable momentum in very recent years and, of course, the increase in interest in Islamic finance and banking has provided new links between not only the Middle East and South East Asia, but also with China, India and Pakistan.

For 30 years, East and South Asian investors have been significant investors in the Middle East — competing for contracts while capital has gone in the other direction.

Indeed, the emphasis on infrastructure and project finance in the Gulf and in Asia is ideal for Islamic finance, especially bonds (sukuk), the outstandings of which have soared since 2002 when pioneered by Malaysia to reach over $40 billion currently.

It is still fair to point out that the institutional structures underpinning Asian and Middle Eastern ties are relatively weak or embryonic. Bilateral relationships are most common, but the wider institutional structures necessary for deeper and broader interactions are starting to change.


The Organisation of Islamic Conferences, founded in 1969 and comprising 57 countries, is the only major body with complete coverage of the GCC states and certain Asian countries, including Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia and India. Russia has observer status in this organisation.

However, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, founded in 2001 by Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan to deal with disputes, terrorism and separatist threats now has a new raison d’etre.

Beyond OPEC

The function of the OIC is, essentially, to foster energy and economic cooperation and to deter or contain U.S. presence and influence in central Asia (which is seen as destabilising for a variety of reasons).

The increase in interest in Islamic finance and banking has provided new links between not only the Middle East and South East Asia, but also with China, India and Pakistan.
In 2005, it admitted Iran as an observer, along with India, Pakistan and Mongolia.

As a group, it now represents about half the world’s population. Moreover, since June 2005, several structures have evolved to further the networks of economic and political interactions.

These networks include the Asia-Middle East Dialogue, the China-OPEC Energy Dialogue, the Asia Cooperation Dialogue, the China-Arab Cooperation Forum, the Indo-Gulf Summit, the Arab-Asian Financial Forum, the UAE-Asia Investment Forum and, at the end of this year, the India-Arab World CEO Summit.

A diplomatic briefing on Caspian energy took place in London

Leading experts in sphere of energy economics are known to be involved in participation of such an event. Its ultimate goal is to stimulate debates and studies on a wide range of power energy issues.

Among the invited main speakers were acknowledged analysts like Dr Jennifer Coolidge, counselor of the US State Department, Christof van Agt (International Energy Agency), John Roberts (Platts economic agency).

The key conclusion of the briefing is an ever-growing role of the Caspian region in providing global energy security. Thereat the growth of the region’s significance will further directly depend on the actions of the Caspian littoral states in guaranteeing efficient and secure routes of the Caspian oil and gas export to the world market, including Europe, development of alternate export routes, new oil and gas fields, ensuring safety of the existent oil and gas infrastructure.

Israel’s new plans on Caspian oil transit

Speaking at an international energy conference in Haifa, he said Israel plans to both consume and act as a transit country for the transportation of Caspian oil and gas.

“We are not looking only to buy energy resources. We are also offering our territory to be used for delivering Caspian oil to Asian markets, namely, China, India and Japan. As a result, this will lead to a reduction in transit fees,” Ben-Eliezer said. The minister added that he would like to see Israel as an energy giant.

It is indicative that Ben-Eliezer did not touch on Israel’s energy cooperation with Russia. He did not mention transportation of Russian gas to the Mediterranean Sea ports either.

The conference was attended by officials from a number of countries, including Georgian and Turkish energy ministers, German environment minister, Kazakh deputy prime minister and an official of Azeri state oil company SOCAR. Speakers described Azerbaijan as an oil-rich country playing an important role in regional energy security.

Russia to boost crude oil thru pipelines

Russia has agreed to boost supplies of its crude via Ukrainian oil pipelines next year in a move that may further strengthen its position as the dominant energy supplier to European markets.

The agreement, reached Thursday by the countries’ top energy officials in Moscow, may hamper Ukraine’s earlier commitments to start shipments of alternative Caspian Sea crude via the same pipelines to Europe.

Russia agreed to boost oil shipments via Brody-to-Odessa to about 9 million metric tons in 2007, up from about 3.7 million metric tons in 2006, the Energy and Fuel Ministry reported. Russia also pledged to boost its oil shipments to Europe via Druzhba, another major oil pipeline crossing Ukraine.

Diplomacy awakens on Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

International pressure and Armenia's growing isolation in the region may be the key reason why Armenia is opting for a fresh diplomatic drive on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, one of the most intricate disputes threatening stability in the southern Caucasus, home to considerable Caspian gas and oil resources. Hundreds of thousands of people were displaced during a 1988-1994 war between Azerbaijan and Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh, an Armenian enclave within Azerbaijan.

Armenia, say diplomats familiar with the issue, is feeling increasingly isolated in the region as its rival Azerbaijan proceeds with regional energy and transportation projects with Turkey and Georgia.

Azerbaijan is sending part of its Caspian oil to Turkey's Mediterranean port of Ceyhan via neighboring Georgia with the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, which was officially launched in the summer of this year. A parallel pipeline to transport part of its natural gas to Turkey's eastern terminal of Erzurum is also drawing near for completion.

Turkey, Azerbaijan and Georgia are working on a regional integration project, as they proceed with plans to build a railway linking the three countries.

Armenia's position on Nagorno-Karabakh is costing the Yerevan administration dearly. Neighboring Turkey closed its border gates more than a decade ago and severed diplomatic ties to protest the occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh by Armenian troops, bringing huge trade losses for the landlocked country.

Ankara says normalization of ties depends on Armenia's withdrawal from the enclave and whether Armenia drops its support for Armenian diaspora efforts to win international recognition for allegations of an Armenian genocide at the hands of the late Ottoman Empire.

Armenia's economic hardships have grown further recently due to a Russian transportation blockade on Georgia, the main route for Armenia to reach the outside world.

Azerbaijan, on the other hand, sits on a significant part of the Caspian energy wealth and has been channeling money to boost its defense structure. Oil and gas money has brought a record high economic growth to Azerbaijan and Azerbaijani President Aliyev has pledged to equal his country's defense budget to the entire budget of Armenia.




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